Roads, rivers, canals
Spaces of freedom from Epstein to Vigo
in Screening the Paris suburbs
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

Visual tropes of movement and passage in French films of the 1920s and 1930s qualify the suburb as a locus of temporary release from the constraints of authority, industrialization and modernity as well as from an unmoving rural past. Suburban roadways and waterways allow world-weary individuals momentarily to reinvent themselves. Commenting on films by Jean Renoir (La Fille de l’eau, 1924; La Nuit du carrefour, 1932), Jean Epstein (La Glace à trois faces, 1927) and Marcel Carné (Nogent, el Dorado du dimanche, 1929), the author highlights moments of phenomenological discovery and psychological negotiation. Where the canals showcased in Jean Vigo’s poetic realist L’Atalante, classified in its time as a river barge film, allow for progressive self-discovery, motorways and the attendant car culture of the interwar period reflect in other titles an ‘accelerating transformation of the world’. Tropes of euphoric mobility and freedom would lose their force by the close of the 1930s, when the mood sours and the suburb turns dark.

Screening the Paris suburbs

From the silent era to the 1990s


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 61 10 3
Full Text Views 20 3 0
PDF Downloads 11 2 0